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Council cancels roll-off trash bin service

The Bemidji City Council voted unanimously Monday to discontinue its unscheduled roll-off trash bin service.

The unscheduled roll-off service was offered to residents who would opt to rent a bin from the city to catch waste materials generated from home projects such as re-shingling a roof.

"We'd like to turn the unscheduled (pick-ups) over to the private sector," said Public Works Director Andy Mack.

He suggested that Magnuson Trucking can provide the service to the public in the city's absence.

"It's not as if we're abandoning the public," said Councilor Nancy Erickson, who noted that residents have another option.

Mack explained that the city used to blend its unscheduled roll-off service with its recycling services, but since the city no longer provides residential recycling, it is not cost-effective to offer unscheduled roll-off services.

The unscheduled pick-ups do not generate money for the city and actually generate a deficit, according to Finance Director Ron Eischens.

Additionally, it requires taking city staff away from their primary responsibility, which is maintaining the city's 90 miles of sewer lines, Mack said.

While canceling the service will not result in tangible costs savings for personnel, it will result in more efficient use of city personnel, he explained.

The council voted 6-0 to cancel the unscheduled pick-ups immediately. The motion also included a deadline of 2009 to cancel the city's scheduled pick-ups of recyclables at Bemidji State University and Bemidji High School.

The city will continue to provide scheduled roll-off service to BSU and BHS, which both have designated days for pick-up, for the immediate future.

That service also generates a deficit, but Mack said the city cannot just cancel that service immediately until the city can identify another option for the two schools.

"We have an obligation to them right now," he said.

The city owns the only vehicle in town that is equipped to handle the size of bins at BSU and BHS, Mack explained.

He said he would begin looking into other options and the possibility of selling the city's equipment if it would create another possibility for the two schools.

"I can't really sell (the equipment) until the high school and college have an alternative way to get ride of their recyclables," he said. "We can't just leave them stranded."

The City Council was short one member as Mayor Richard Lehmann did not attend Monday's meeting.